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2 New Subway Entrances Open at Columbus Circle


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2 New Subway Entrances Open at Columbus Circle


Columbus Circle has seen enormous change since 2004: the opening of the Time Warner Center, the reconfiguration of the circle with a new public space, and the nearly completed conversion of Edward Durell Stone’s 1964 “Lollipop Building” into the new home of the Museum of Arts and Design.


So the fanfare on Wednesday morning seemed justified when officials of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority formally opened two new stairways on the northwest corner of Broadway and 60th Street that lead into the subway station beneath the circle. About 50 yards away, a century-old entrance in the middle of a traffic island is scheduled to close to the public on July 28 for a renovation that is expected to last more than a year.


The two changes will have a subtle but noticeable effect on the 69,000 commuters estimated to use the 59th Street-Columbus Circle station each day. The station, which serves the No. 1 line as well as the A, B, C and D lines, is in the midst of a $108 million renovation.


The project, which began in 2006 and is expected to be completed next year, is intended to improve the flow of passengers through the often-congested station, which opened in 1904 and was expanded in 1932. The work involves the installation of a new elevator on the west side of Central Park West; other features to improve access for the disabled; upgrades of communications, lighting and electrical systems; and even an installation by the artist Sol LeWitt, who died last year.


The new subway entrances are part of a “control area” that cost $14 million and involved carving into the solid Manhattan schist while protecting a variety of crucial equipment used by utilities, including 20-inch and 32-inch city water mains, a 20-inch Con Edison steam pipe, and many smaller electric, gas and fiber-optic lines. The new entrances were built under concrete decking, which minimized the disruption to southbound traffic on Broadway.


The entrances take passengers directly to the downtown No. 1 subway platform from Broadway. They can get to the uptown No. 1 trains and the other subway lines using a variety of stairwells and passageways in the station.


“Funding for transportation is a scarce commodity, but we are doing everything we can with the resources we have available to improve the experience our customers have with us,” said Elliot G. Sander, the chief executive of the transportation authority, who used a large pair of black-and-silver scissors to cut through a bright blue ribbon strung across the stairway entrance.


Passengers using the new subway entrances expressed broad approval.


“It’s great,” said Raj Virani, 30, an architect from Connecticut, who arrives in the city at Grand Central Terminal each week, then uses the subway to get to a work site near Columbus Circle. “I like to spend as little time as possible underground.”


He added, “Coming out of the 1 train at this stop, you can wait a minute or two at the revolving gate while people filter out.”


Stacie Ewing, 32, a student at the New York Institute of Technology nearby, said the new entrances would do away with the need to cross into heavy traffic to reach the old subway entrance on the traffic island.


“I think it’s money well spent,” she said.


From: nytimes_logo.gif icon_offsite.png - July 18, 2008

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